Direct characterization occurs when an author, through the narrator, directly states what a character is like. In the story, Jackie, the narrator, delivers direct characterization of his grandmother. He tells readers, for example, that she "had a fat, wrinkled old face" and was "quite unsuited to the life in town." He says that she walks around the house barefoot, drinks beer, and eats with her fingers. Jackie tells readers that his grandmother's habits outrage his mother and embarrass him when she walks through town with her "jug of porter."
Indirect characterization occurs when an author fleshes out a character through his/her actions, physical appearance, and the things he/she says. Perhaps the best example of indirect characterization surfaces in Jackie's interaction with the young priest. Jackie doesn't directly state that the man is understanding, intuitive, and kind, but readers understand this when the priest talks with Jackie, walks outside with him, and gives him candy. Jackie's reassurance that he won't go to hell based on what the priest tells him shows the reader that the priest doesn't want to alienate Jackie or turn him off the practice of Catholicism and the rite of confession. The priest listens to Jackie saying that he went after his sister Nora with the bread knife, and he tells Jackie
Someone will go for her with a bread-knife one day, and he won't miss her ... You must have great courage. Between ourselves, there's a lot of people I'd like to do the same to, but I'd never have the nerve. Hanging is an awful death.
The priest is reassuring Jackie that some people are provocative but a good man will not choose violence. In this way, the priest is indirectly characterized as an adult who is good with children, particularly in gently leading them in the correct moral direction.